beauty queens

Why Miss Japan 2024 Karolina Shiino gave up her title

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Why Miss Japan 2024 Karolina Shiino gave up her title 

Karolina Shiino's Instagram

The model of European descent courted criticism in more ways than one

MANILA, Philippines – Weeks after her controversial win, Ukrainian-born model Karolina Shiino relinquished her title as Miss Japan after reports of her having an affair with a married man started to surface.

Shiino’s victory had already sparked debate prior, as some critics questioned whether the Caucasian beauty was able to encapsulate and represent Japan’s beauty ideals. The 26-year-old beauty queen made history as the first person of predominantly European heritage to win the Miss Japan title. 

Shiino was born in Ukraine to Ukrainian parents. She moved with her mother to Japan when she was five years old and became a naturalized citizen in 2020. The model, who also speaks and writes fluent Japanese, took her stepfather’s Japanese surname. 

During the coronation ceremony, Shiino became emotional as she talked about her identity.

“I live as a Japanese person, but there have been racial barriers and many instances where I wasn’t accepted,” she said in fluent Japanese. “I’m just filled with so much gratitude that I have really been accepted as a person today.” 

In an interview with CNN, Shiino also addressed the criticisms, saying that she participated in the competition in hopes of being recognized as a Japanese person.

“I kept being told that I’m not Japanese, but I’m absolutely Japanese. So I entered Miss Japan genuinely believing in myself,” she said. 

Shiino then made waves anew in light of tabloid reports that she was having an affair. The scandal led her to give up her crown. Citing Japanese media, the BBC, CNN, and The Guardian reported that Shiino was in a relationship with a married doctor. 

According to the reports, Shiino earlier told pageant organizers that she hadn’t known the man was married; she had also told her model agency that she had ended the relationship after knowing that the man had a family. But the model agency released a statement afterwards saying that the beauty queen was still seeing the man. 

On Monday, February 5, Shiino took to her Instagram account to announce her decision to step down. She also issued an apology to the man’s family members, pageant organizers, her supporters, and the general public. The model said that she had gotten scared when news of her affair first came out, which led her to mislead the organizers and her modeling agency. 

“There was a difference from the facts in what I explained to my agency the other day. I can’t tell the truth out of confusion and fear. I’m really sorry that I conveyed something that is not true to everyone who has supported me,” she wrote. 

Aside from relinquishing her title, she also said that she was parting ways with her modeling agency.

The Miss Japan Association has also released a statement, saying that they accept Shiino’s decision to resign, adding that they would also reflect on their part in the controversy. The organizers also said that the Miss Japan title will remain vacant for the rest of 2024. –

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